The Rodina homage to the Nomos Tangente has been causing quite a stir in the affordable watch segment at the moment. There is a thread dedicated to this watch on watchuseek literally hundreds of responses long. http://forums.watchuseek.com/f71/affordable-nomos-homage-review-rodina-small-seconds-pictures-752788.html
It seems to have received a positive response and quite a following to match. Why is this the case? Mainly because of the surprising spec for $120, and also the fact that this is one of the only affordable homages available with a Classic Bauhaus style. I had to get my hands on one to take a closer look…
Currently, the best place to buy the Rodina is Good Stuffs (which is where I got this one from). http://www.good-stuffs.com/Classic-Rodina-automatic-wrist-watch-OEM-by-Sea-Gull-ST17_p_156.html
The model doesn’t really have a name, heck, I don’t even think there are any other current Rodinas out there apart from the blue faced equivalent.
Rodina R005 Bauhaus Watch Review
The case is very straight-forward in design and build. It is entirely polished, and is 38.37mm in diameter, although it appears more like 40mm thanks to the very thin bezel.
The top angle has a sharply cut edge, at 90 degrees with the tiniest of rounded edging. The underside’s profile is provided by the screw-down case back, which is the full size of the bottom of the Rodina R005. Rather than being as angular as the top of the case, the bottom has a shallow curve around the edges – which makes for a comfortable wear. The case-back has a mineral crystal in the centre (also known as an exhibition case back) to show off the innards of the Sea-Gull ST17 movement. It has the details of the watch lightly etched around the crystal. The case-back overall is nicely executed and a key feature of the watch in my eyes.
The height of the case is a slim 9.25mm, resulting in a low profile and easy wear. This thin height of the case also emphasises the minimalist bauhaus design.
The only other design feature of the case is a thin and shallow indent around the side of the case. I’m not sure if this is a design feature, as in the case has been machined with it there to look nice, or if it is a manufacturing feature – it looks like it could be that the case and the bezel are two separate pieces if steel and this is the join where they have been screwed together. Nevertheless, it looks good and breaks up the side of an otherwise very plain case.
On top of the case is a sapphire crystal, with no anti-reflective coating apparent (although with a lighter dial it is not needed as much as a dark dial). I am not sure of the thickness of the sapphire crystal, but judging by the sound it makes when you tap it, I would say it is relatively thin. But hey, it’s still better than a mineral crystal.
The Rodina has a fairly plain pull-out crown at 3 with “R” embossed on the end. It has a shallow grip testier around the outside. There are no crown guards present as protection.
The lugs on the case are another unique feature of this watch (I say unique, I mean copied off the Nomos Tangente). They have a very angular profile, protruding at 90 degrees out from the case and then turning down at 45 degrees. The Rodina features drilled lugs, which make changing straps nice and easy – it means that you can contract the pins to remove the strap from the outside through the holes.
The overall impression of the case is very good, and it is very well finished. There are no apparent flaws or signs of poor machining.
The colour of the dial is a very pleasant off white, with tints of cream and silver flowing through it depending on the angle of the light reflection. It’s a very plainly designed dial, the only discernible styled items are the Bauhaus inspired numeral hour markers for every even number. There are printed baton hour markers for all the odd hours. The only other printing on the dial is “Rodina” and “automatic” below it in the top half, and then “China Made” at the foot of the face. This is interesting that Rodina decided to have this here, as unfortunate as it is (China do make some very good watches), it may put off a number of people.
The hands are an extremely simple stick with a small point at the tip. They are all blued steel, which brings in the only splash of colour to the watch. The colour is very dark, so only in certain light does the blue come through, but when it does it looks very nice and gives the watch an expensive appearance. To the naked eye, the hands all appear to be very well made. Only upon cracking out the macro lens does some very minor flaws show up, mainly on the edging where they have been cut or made.
The small seconds subdial has a very subtle concentric circle pattern in it, giving the general face an extra texture and making it a bit more interesting. A nice extra touch at this price.
As I mentioned before, it is interesting that the only reference to Bauhaus is the font used for the numerals. I figure if they changed the font for an elegant serif or a smart sans-serif (as not everyone likes the bauhaus numeral look), it would completely alter the overall look of the watch, transforming it into a classy dress watch.
The 20mm wide strap that comes fitted to the Rodina is a little on the thin side, but is comfortable enough. As I mention in the video review, it is most probably something you would be looking at swapping out anyway. But, if you’re not too bothered, it does the job just fine. It is soft and comfortable on the underside, you barely notice the watch is on when you are wearing it. There is also a black thread either side of the strap for the whole length.
One thing I have noticed is that usually I wear any leather strap on the second hole. On the Rodina though, I have to have it on the 4th at least, and there are only 7 in total. It is much shorter than any other straps I have worn. If you have a large wrist, don’t expect the stock strap to fit!
Another thing regarding the strap is that I have not worn the watch a great amount, and already there is slight creasing appearing on it from the buckle. I was expecting it to last a bit longer before it started to crease, this is most probably due to the slightly thinner profile of the leather.
The fully polished stainless steel buckle is a little bit flimsy flimsy too, with a light etching of “RODINA” on it. There is a lot of movement in the pin. But, it does the job just fine.
The Rodina is powered by an automatic Sea-Gull ST17 movement. It is well known as being a solid, dependable and cost-effective automatic movement. It runs at 21.6k bph, equating to 6 ticks per second. Rather than having a centre second hand, the running seconds are situated in a subdial at 6. The smaller hand gives the movement the appearance of a smoother sweep. The Sea-Gull ST17 movement has hand wind functionality, but does not have a hacking function. It has proved to be very accurate in its time keeping for a couple of weeks.
The exhibition case back shows off this movement nicely. You get to see pretty much all of it, including the plastic movement holder keeping it secure. The ST-17 feels reassuringly secure when changing the time, supporting the general vibe that this is a sturdy and dependable movement.
The rotor could be a bit more visually appealing, but it is understandable that it has to be sterile and generic, in order that it can be used in so many different watches. The Côtes de Genève / pearlage markings are classically Chinese and are pleasant to view.
All in all, this watch is impressive, and I personally like it very much. Obviously you would most probably want to replace the strap, but that’s not really a big problem. In fact, it’s something you expect from most of the cheaper Chinese watches available today. The watch head itself offers great looks and value for money however. The specs of a dependable ST17 movement with exhibition case back, sapphire crystal and very well machined case, especially at only $120, makes the Rodina R005 a great buy if the Bauhaus design appeals to you. I would highly recommend it as a cheap alternative / homage to the Nomos Tangente.